Chapter 37

The concert had come to a close around 3:00 when Manteaux played the encore, her mega-popular cover of “Million Miles from Home”. She left the stage to a chorus of excited cheers and a colorful light show.

By the time 4:00 had rolled around, most of the concertgoers had left the pavilion. Many went to their own rooms; some found themselves with different destinations. A few stragglers stayed behind for a while, but were soon ushered inside by the staff members, who were eager to clean and strike the pavilion area.

The strike was a concerted and very quick operation. The staff had moved all of the equipment and removed most of the stage by 5:00, and many of the crew left the scene then.

At 5:25, a few crew members were scattered about the remains of the pavilion, checking for leftover trash and finding little (the employee concertgoers had been informed that they would be made to perform any cleanup that the staff could not complete in a timely fashion). Soon, the field was nearly empty.

From the highest sturdy branch of a tree near the pavilion, Click watched the dwindling cleanup crew perform their duties. His face was somber and he observed the crew’s activities dispassionately. Crouched on the branch, he sat still for several minutes more before unclenching his body and looking up at the sky.

A few seconds later, he reached to his side and pulled his shell from its holster. He tapped its surface several times, and then held its speaker to his ear.

It rang for what seemed like a very long time. Then a voice answered him, “Seelie Court, Lord Oberon’s office.”

“Uh, yes,” Click said, then cleared his throat. “Um, this is Click o’th’Granfalloon.”

“How may I help you, Click?” the voice asked.

“I’d just … like a card, please.”

“All right, please hold on.” There was the sound of a keyboard’s keys clicking. Click waited as patiently as he could manage, but even in his anxious state he knew it was taking too long.

“Is something the matter?” Click asked.

“Mr. Click, I can’t seem to find you in our database,” the voice said.

A cold fear stabbed Click. “Could you check the lesser Seelie database?” he asked.

“I’m afraid I already have,” the voice said. “Beltane has occurred recently, Mr. Click. Would you like me to connect you to the New Washington Greater Court?”

“Yes, please,” Click said in a small voice.

Hold music played in Click’s ear.

The wyvern took the monkey for a ride in the sky
Because the monkey said that he could learn to fly
The wyvern tried to throw the monkey into the snow
The monkey turned around and said “Now listen Joe,”

“Oh, come on,” Click murmured, fidgeting.

Straighten up and fly right
Don’t you sting and don’t bite
Straighten up and fly right
Calm down, baby, don’t—

“New Washington Greater Faerie Court, how can I help you?”

“Hi,” Click said. “This is Click o’th’Granfalloon. I’d like to request a card.”

“One moment please,” the voice said, and the hold music came on again.

—looked the wyvern right dead in the face
And said “Your story’s lovely, but it sounds outta place.”

Click sighed.

Straighten up and fly right
Don’t you sting and don’t bite
Straighten up and—

The line came to life. “Thank you for your card request. It will arrive shortly.” The line disconnected.

Click lowered his shell and reholstered it. About twenty seconds passed, then Click heard a rushing noise and saw a tarot-sized card fluttering down through the air. He lashed out and caught it in his left hand, facing away from him.

He stared at the back of the card for a few moments, then swallowed and turned it over.

On the front of the card was an elaborate picture of a beautiful, black-haired woman drawn in heavy, colorful strokes. The woman looked at Click with an icy, smirking glare of triumph. A ribbon below her pale visage read “Mab.”

Mab. Queen of the Unseelie Court.

Click let his hand fall slack and watched the card flutter to the ground.